"I Can See Myself in STEM" Ambassador Profile - Mahya Wood

Mahya Wood

Program Manager
NSF Health Sciences LLC

Personal Statement:

I have loved science since I was a kid and had always wanted to work in a field where I felt that I was contributing to the betterment of the world. When I left college, I wanted to work in the area of sustainability and the environment, but I also wanted to stay near Ann Arbor, MI.  So I started working at NSF as chemist.  When I heard about NSF's Green Chemistry program in our toxicology department, I felt it would be a great marriage of my environmental education and my hands on experience as a chemist. Little did I know that toxicology was its own very unique discipline, but it turned out to be a great experience.

Tell us a little bit about the work you do:

I evaluate the chemical hazard profile of chemicals used in cleaning products._This involves reading all of the studies done on that chemical to determine if there are any knows hazards to human health or the environment.   We look  Human Health endpoints like if the ingredient could affect someone's ability to have children (reproductive toxicity), cause cancer (carcinogenicity) or allergic reactions (sensitization) to name a few.  We also look at environmental enpoints like if the chemical is toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates or algae, as well as biodegradability.  If we do not see any ingredients with any hazard concerns, then the product can be recognized as a green cleaning product.

What types of things interested you when you were a kid?

I was very interested in nature as well as how the human body works. 

What type of advice do you have for girls who are interested in pursuing a STEM career?

If you encounter others who doubt you, use that doubt to fuel your fire even more.  If you are rejected or wait-listed, find out why and see what you can do to remove the obstacles.  Do not take "no" or "not right now" at face value.  Dig into it, do the hard work, and continue to advocate for yourself in professional manner.  In short...believe in yourself.

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